Introducing Ziglua

Hi! This is a small update to share something I have been working on over the past few months: Ziglua. In short, Ziglua is a complete Zig wrapper around the Lua API for versions 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, and 5.4. It makes it super easy compile and embed Lua in a Zig program, and exposes the C API in a Ziggified way. Check out the repo for more information if you’re interested.

So how did this come about?

While contributing to Blender during the Google Summer of Code in 2019 and 2020, I was fascinated by the Blender Python API. I decided then that I eventually wanted to write some sort of program that embedded another language for some form of extensibility.

Then I learned Lua. After hearing about it for years, I first used Lua when creating a fuzzy finder for Neovim, a project I have since abandoned. But that project introduced me to Lua and it’s simplicity, and reminded me of my plan to embed a language in a program of my own.

Then earlier this year I ranted about text editors. At the time I was using Neovim full time, and had been for about a year. Before that I was using Emacs. Those experiences opened my eyes to different text editing paradigms. The rant focused on how I wanted a perfect Vim + GUI editor, most likely a GUI layer on top of the Neovim API.

The funny thing is, almost a week after writing those thoughts down my plans changed.

Writing down why I preferred GUI editors prompted me to move back to VSCode. After some more thought, I decided it would be a great (and very long-term) project to build my own text editor. Since I love both Zig and Lua, I decided those would be my implementation languages. And that is how Ziglua was started.

I bought the Programming in Lua book, read the chapters on the C API, and wrote a wrapper around the majority of the Lua 5.4 API within a few weeks. Then I started my first software job and progress has slowed over the last several months. But now the project is polished and stable enough to share in a pre-release fashion.

So what is next? I have some plans for Ziglua, but now that it’s relatively stable I want to move back to working on Reckless Drivin’. I have been blocked for a long time due to bugs in the Zig compiler. Now that Zig 0.10.0 is about to be released I should be able to get up and running again!